Arnie March April 2019 Hunt Report
The dog handler phoned and said: “I have a cat up a tree.” Not too sure what to do as we had just shot a caracal, I asked Arnie how about a second Caracal and he said “Why not!” Twenty minutes later we had two Caracal in a mornings hunt. Only to have the unheard of happen later when we shot 3 Caracal in one day! Now that is unheard of…
We picked Arnie and Marysabel up at the Port Elizabeth Airport and we headed off to the Karoo Concession. Arriving late afternoon we checked rifles and settled into our accommodation.
The next morning, we had a light breakfast and left the lodge to head to the top of the mountains found in the Karoo Concession. The property is 75 000 acres and it takes some time to move around, we were looking for Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest or Black Wildebeest this morning. We got to the top of the mountain as the sun started to come up. We went for a walk down a Valley where we normally see lots of Blue Wildebeest, while moving down the valley we saw our first bull, unfortunately he was still too young. We carried on and saw more in a distance, as we approached them we heard another bull calling to display territory, but we could not see him. We were about 400 meters away from the group when the tracker stopped us. The bull was about 200 meters in front of us on a slope, we got Arnie set up and the bull started to move slowly, as soon as he stopped Arnie made a great shot and his first animal was in the salt. We took some photos, got the recovery vehicle in and moved on to look for Red Hartebeest. We continued over some of the hills and saw some Black Wildebeest in the distance, after quick planning we were on foot trying to get closer. The Black Wildebeest spotted us and moved over a ridge, as we approached, we saw two Red Hartebeest bulls chasing each other and having a bit of a fight. We had a careful look and the one bull was nice, after a good stalk Arnie made another good shot but the Red Hartebeest just did not want to go down, I instructed him to shoot a second shot and then it was all over, two animals in one morning. We headed back to the lodge for brunch. Later that afternoon we were out looking for Black Wildebeest, it was windy up on the mountains, so we decided to move down to the lower ridges looking for Mountain Reedbuck. While driving we glassed over some Springbuck, with over 2000 springbuck on the property we looked over a lot of Springbuck and saw some nice rams. Coming into a small valley we saw a really good Common Springbuck and again the stalk was on, Arnie made an impressive shot and we had three for the day. It was close to 4pm and getting into prime time for Mountain Reedbuck, we decided, even though we had an amazing day, we will look around and see what we can find. We saw a couple and took a walk, while sitting glassing from the top of the hill we spotted a Mountain Reedbuck in a distance, looking at it through the binoculars I could see it was a good male. We started the stalk and got into a really good position, we set up on a little ridge and the Mountain Reedbuck was around 70 meters in front of us facing away. After waiting patiently he gave Arnie the opportunity to make a shot and it was four animals for the day. We headed back to the lodge and relaxed around the bar reflecting on a very successful first day.
We went looking for Eland for the day. We headed to the back of the property which is about a 40-minute drive and got into prime Eland country. We started looking around and saw a herd of Eland on a hillside, there must have been 100+ Eland with a few good bulls but they were in an area that was not accessible, so we had to pass them up. After an hour or so we bumped 8 mature bulls, the wind wasn’t in our favour and we tried to work around them, but they moved away too quickly. It started getting warm and we decided to have our packed brunches in a valley under some big shady trees. On our way there, we bumped another group of Eland bulls with one very good bull. Again, they moved away too quickly and we opted not to chase them but rather to have brunch and then track them afterwards. After brunch we started tracking the Eland, they had moved over a mountain and through a valley, over another ridge and over a big open area. With the temperature being very warm we gave up on the Eland, after about five kilometers of tracking them with no luck of seeing them again. It was around 2pm and we decided to move into a different area for Eland. Half way there we saw a lone Black Wildebeest bull standing on a slope with a some Blesbuck, we started our stalk and after about 45 minutes we were in at around 180 meters. One of the Blesbuck spotted us and the Black Wildebeest swung around and faced us, he was showing a bit of his shoulder and Arnie said he can make the shot, seconds later he had his fifth animal in the salt.
We set out early again heading back to the area where we saw the big Eland bull the previous day, we made a plan on how to walk into the area. As we got close to the top of the mountain we bumped a herd of 120-150 Eland, there were several good bulls in the herd, but with so many eyes and ears it was difficult to get close and we were never presented with a shot. We carried on to a vantage point overlooking the section where we saw the bachelor bulls the previous day. While sitting there we spotted a good looking Eland a distance down the valley. The stalk was on and about 40 minutes later we just needed to move through a small valley and we would be in a good shooting position. We still had sight of the bull as he started to move up a small hill about 600 yards ahead of us, we proceeded through the valley got to the area where we wanted to set up, but the Eland was gone. We decided to set up anyway hoping that the bull moved in behind some small trees, 30 minutes later still no Eland. We decided to send one of the trackers up the hill to the right of the Eland to see if he could spot him. A while later the tracker was in line with the area we last saw the bull, the call came over the radio “I can’t see anything.” He decided to move a little further up the hill to make sure, and spotted the Eland bedded down in a bush, by this time the Eland spotted the tracker and jumped up giving us a good view of him, he is a nice bull. Arnie kept him in the scope as he walked directly away from us, he paused and turned to have a final look at the tracker and that was the only time Arnie needed to make a perfect shot. He managed to run 30 meter before he fell over. Perfect shot and a perfect hunt. The afternoon we went looking for Gemsbuck, we saw some Gemsbuck in a valley. We made a nice stalk and within about 40 minutes we were in a nice position to make a shot, Arnie made a great shot and the Gemsbuck was down. We noticed a really skinny Gemsbuck amongst the group, she would not survive the winter. We made a quick call to the concession owner and in a couple of minutes the stalk was on again, we quickly caught up to the group and it wasn’t long before Arnie had two Gemsbuck down. We headed back to the lodge after yet another successful day.
We left the lodge early in search of a Fallow Deer, at first light we were walking some valleys as it was a really crisp morning and we started checking all the sunny spots. After about an hour we caught a glimpse of a Stag, two valleys away, we moved closer and by the time we got there he was long gone. We spent a while looking but could not pick him up again. The Stag had good colors, light with lots of spots… It started warming up so we decided to start looking for a Black Springbuck. As we left the valleys we drove over big open flats towards the area where we wanted to look for the Springbuck. All of a sudden three Fallow Deer popped out of a small valley a distance ahead of us, they headed towards a little ridge, we quickly moved around and stalked the Fallow Deer, they moved half way up the slope and eventually stopped and gave Arnie a good shot. Another great animal. We loaded the Fallow Deer and on the way to the skinning shed we saw a really good Black Springbuck, we quickly dropped the Fallow Deer off and moved back into the area where we saw the Black Springbuck, we walked up a riverine and saw a few Common Springbuck, it must have been the Black Springbuck ram’s territory because he came running over to sort the Common Springbuck ram out that we bumped, this all worked in our favor and we got a good shot on the Black Springbuck, and had two animals before lunch. The afternoon of day 4 we went after a White Springbuck that we saw earlier in the week, very late the afternoon we found a group of Springbuck in the area where we spotted the White springbuck, one of the trackers saw the ram bedded down in a small depression a distance behind the group. We tried to get closer but the group ran off and made the White ram jump up making him move away from us in the distance. All we could do is regroup and move in from a different side to get closer, Arnie made a brilliant long shot late in the afternoon and we had 3 brilliant animals for the day. Arnie is now one Springbuck away from completing his grand slam.
The idea was to try and complete the Springbuck Slam, we set out early morning in search of Copper Springbuck, it wasn’t long before we were after a bachelor group of about 20 Springbuck, some Common, Black and around 10 Copper Springbuck males were in the group of which two or three were really good Copper Springbuck. They were on a big open flats and it was very difficult to get close to them we attempted a few stalks without success, after a while we set up in an area where they kept running past and we let the trackers walk after them and and see if they will come past again, no success. We returned to brunch with no luck. That afternoon we went back to that area but from get go we set up in the area where we waited earlier that day, it wasn’t 20 minutes and we had the Springbuck in shooting distance, now it was a challenge getting a shot at the one we wanted in the group. We watched them for a good 30 minutes and they slowly started moving into our direction. We got a frontal shot on the male we wanted, Arnie yet again made an incredible shot and his Springbuck slam was complete. This concluded the list for the Karoo area and we had one day left, that night we decided that we will look for the Fallow Deer that gave us the slip earlier in the week as Arnie wanted a Fallow Deer rug. After that we will be after cull Blue Wildebeest, Blesbuck and Springbuck for rugs. With over 700 Blue Wildebeest and 2000 Blesbuck and 3000 Springbuck finding some culls in one day would not be to difficult to find.
We set out early and started walking the valley slopes where we saw the light colored Fallow Deer earlier in the week, after a while of walking and sitting glassing slopes we spotted the Stag laying down under a bush about 600 yards across the valley from us. We moved down the valley and approached the area where the Fallow Deer was laying down, we got about 250 yards away and he was still there, we set Arnie up and he made another good shot. That afternoon we went out and hunted the three cull animals he was after.
Our time in the Karoo came to an end.
We left around mid morning and moved down to the coastal area to continue the hunt. Getting to the Coastal area we went to the local town called Kenton on Sea, here we went to a restaurant and bought some supplies for the lodge.
We had the hounds out for Caracal and we decided to carry on hunting for Bushbuck, the morning was quiet and we did not manage to see any bushbuck nor pick up any tracks on cats. Around 11am we called it the morning and went for brunch. The afternoon we carried on looking for Bushbuck and late afternoon we saw a nice Warthog. We made a stalk and had the first coastal animal after a hard days hunting.
The hounds were out again looking for cats from early morning and we moved to a different area looking for Bushbuck, we saw lots of Bushbuck, about ten rams but nothing good enough, again a hard morning and yet again we went to brunch with no animals. That afternoon we decided to go after a really good looking Blesbuck we saw the day we arrived at the Coastal area. After looking for him for about an hour we located the ram with another ram, we started stalking him but unfortunately he saw us and ran off, disappointed we had to turn back to the vehicle. The tracker suggested we check a small plains on a hill top in the direction that the Blesbuck ran. We did so and got lucky as the Blesbuck was on the plains, again we attempted a stalk and this time it worked out, we got him, a really good Blesbuck. We returned to the lodge for an early dinner so we could set out that evening in search of a porcupine, we did but had no luck that night.
The hounds were out early morning again and we continued looking for Bushbuck, around 9am, the dog handler who runs the hounds called us and said that one of the properties close by heard some Bushbuck bark in one of the valleys and short after that, some monkeys alarm calling. Having struggled for the past three days, we loaded the dogs and moved to the property hoping that there was a cat moving in that area. We dropped the hounds high up in a valley where the farm owner heard the Bushbuck barking and moved a distance down the valley to a point where the hounds would eventually meet up with us again. We unfortunately had no luck in this valley and the dogs picked up no scent. We moved to a different valley and still no luck, around 11:30 we called it a day and moved back to the lodge for brunch. The afternoon we decided to go to a lookout area and see if we could not perhaps see a nice Bushbuck, after being there for a while we saw a really good Nyala we looked him over and decided to move in for a closer look. We got to about 300 yards and the wind started swirling and the Nyala caught our scent, he paused and we could get a good look at him, he was nice. We set up and waited as he moved in to a narrow patch of bush towards a roads, we were focused on the road hoping he will try sneak over. Minutes later exactly that happened, Arnie made an impressive shot on a moving animal as the bull never really stop to present a good shot. Down he went, a really good end to a couple of hard days hunting.
The Hounds were back out early morning, by this time I started losing hope on a caracal and we moved off the property again to the property where we saw a few Bushbuck a few days ago. We all moved in different directions on this property to increase our chances of success. Myself and Arnie went into a small valley and set up half way down, hoping some bushbuck would appear across the way, as we got comfortable I saw something moving across the valley from us. It was a Caracal, a big cat! We could not shoot it with the 7mm Arnie was hunting with. I made a quick call to one of the neighbors that also has some hounds and about 15 minutes later the hounds were on their way, by this time we lost sight of the caracal. Ten minutes later the dogs arrived we directed them to the last place we saw the Caracal and it wasn’t two minutes later and they were on the track. Exciting times as its not every day that you get to experience the whole chase on a caracal hunt, being a big old caracal he wasn’t going to go up the first tree. He ran into a valley and ran over his own track about 4 times before he eventually went up a tree and we got a shot in at him, Arnie yet again made a good shot and we had our cat. Its was still quite early and we decided to head back to camp for early breakfast as well as to let the dog handler on the main property know that we got a cat and he can come back in to camp, an eventful morning. As we got close to the main area the dog handler phoned and said: “I have a cat up a tree.” Not too sure what to do, I asked Arnie how about a second Caracal and he said “why not.” Twenty minutes later we had two Caracal. That afternoon we were out for Bushbuck again, again we saw lots but just could not get into position to get one, late afternoon we came across an old male, Arnie made a great shot and we had a fantastic day. The evening we decided to go for porcupine again, we moved around some plains and saw one but he ran of into the thick bush. We decided to drive to the back of the property and then circle back to the area where we saw this porcupine to see if we not lucky and maybe see him out again. We got to a small open plains at the back of the farm, I saw some eyes behind a small bush, it looked like a predator, we stopped, had a quick look and it was another Caracal, we could not believe our eyes, Arnie made another excellent shot and he had 3 caracal in one day. Having shot 3 caracal in one day is unheard of, so much so after hearing from a lot of Professional Hunters and Outfitters in the area if they had experienced or heard of someone shooting 3 Caracal in one day and the answer was ” No, never, that is very lucky!”
We were out early morning looking for Impala, we were on one of the lookout areas and saw a big bachelor group of Impala and planned a stalk. The stalk worked out really well and we were in a position where we were almost surrounded by Impala, Nyala and Waterbuck, we just had to pick the right male. We got sight of a really nice male moving towards us so we gave him time to walk into a clearing to allow a good shot and he was down. Another good start. On the way back to drop the Impala off we bumped a troop of Baboons and got set up quickly, Arnie made an impressive shot and got a big old male baboon. The only animals left on his list were Kudu and Porcupine. That afternoon we went out looking for Kudu, we saw females all over the property during the week and we moved into one of the areas where we saw the most females. Late afternoon we spotted a really nice bull with some females, a distance from us, the only way we were going to get to them was to walk and to walk quickly before the sun set. We made our way there as quick as what we could, when we finally got within shooting distance we could not see the bull anymore. We saw some females and decided to wait, after some time the bull walked out towards the females, it was late afternoon and we only had one chance. Arnie set up, the bull and cow moved in behind some brush, it was getting late. Minutes later they appeared again, Arnie made an excellent shot and we had one more for the day. We got back late from retrieving the bull so we gave the porcupine hunting a skip for the night.
We left camp the morning with no real plan, but decided if we see another nice Warthog or Bushbuck we would see what happens. It was a really nice warm morning and the Warthog were out, we saw a nice boar in the same area where we shot the kudu the previous day, we did almost the same stalk and got into a really good position and we were off to a great start yet again. We carried on looking for bushbuck but had no further success that morning, the afternoon we went out and saw a couple of good rams, late afternoon we saw a good ram walking with two younger rams and we made a final stalk as this was the final afternoon of hunting, the stalk paid off and we had another Bushbuck. That evening we went out for porcupine and moved on to the plains where we saw the one a few nights ago, as we got closer to the exact area where we saw it, the tracker caught him in the spotlight, we could not believe our luck, Arnie made a great shot and the safari was complete!
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